Publish date: 19 March 2021

Transforming UCLH into a truly digitally integrated hospital has paid dividends during our response to COVID-19. We are one of a handful of trusts to have done this.

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Photo: Tom Pilston

It has been two years since UCLH transformed into a digital hospital through implementing Epic, our fully integrated electronic health record. This created a solid foundation to respond to the future healthcare needs of our patients. 

The pandemic put this to the test and our success in responding to this challenge was greatly enhanced by having rapid and secure access to information from anywhere and the ability to analyse, share and learn from data quickly. 

Professor Marcel Levi, chief executive said: “Our staff have been absolutely fantastic in how they responded to the pandemic. On behalf of our entire senior leadership team, I cannot thank everyone enough for all they've done and continue to do. 

“We could not be prouder of staff working on the frontline and also everyone working hard in the background to support and provide them with the technology and digital tools to respond quickly to the changing environment.”

Gill Gaskin, medical director for digital healthcare said: “The pandemic has tested us all, but from a healthcare perspective, having a single electronic health record means staff have immediate access to all the relevant information they need in one place. 

“We have been able to make rapid advancements in care through secure information sharing across hospital settings and healthcare organisations. Indeed, colleagues across our hospitals and services have told us that they could not have imagined working in any other way during the pandemic.”

The comments below really demonstrate the benefits of a digital hospital and how effective rapid access and sharing of data has been during this health emergency. 

“Our Electronic Health Record (EHR) makes providing ITU level care in different environments so much easier. I have exactly the same tools and integration of medical devices like monitors and ventilators that I have in ICU. This means I can concentrate on caring for patients without the distraction of needing to work differently.” Rik Thomas, ICU Consultant

“With many potentially infectious patients coming to hospital, real-time updates on tests and results are crucial in helping to manage patient flow and patient placement into correct bed type during a pandemic.” Alison Clements, Head of Operations, Patient Flow & EPRR 

“Contact tracing for patients and staff using integrated data from EHR and other hospital systems has completely transformed our ability to follow-up, manage and communicate infections and exposure risks in real-time during this pandemic.” Leila Hail and Gema Martinez-Garcia, Infection Prevention and Control Nurses

“A big challenge was managing patient spread across three different sites with six ICUs and continuously sharing the information at local, regional and national level. We rapidly developed a bespoke dashboard fed by live EHR clinical data. Not only do we have live bed occupancy, our fully digital record meant we could build a system that also shows live organ-support status.” Tim Bonnici, ICU Consultant 

“Remote access to our full EHR means that I have the same richness of information even when doing outpatient clinics from home.” Wai Keong Wong, Consultant Haematologist and Chief Research Information Officer

“30% of Covid-19 inpatients have acute kidney injury (AKI). Using an AKI detection algorithm we created live dashboards to enable us to provide proactive structured advice across multiple locations to track outcomes and to refine and optimise care.” Meera Patel, AKI Digital Clinical Research Fellow

"When in full PPE, it’s much easier to communicate with colleagues using the integrated EHR chat facility rather than using a phone. And with everyone having access to the same real-time information, clinical teams can quickly and effectively provide remote advice." Katherine Tracey, ICU Nurse

“I was able to systematically collect data from patients suffering from Long-COVID both in the clinic and through electronic questionnaires sent beforehand through the patient app. This allowed me to constantly adapt UCLH’s service to treat this new disease, optimise the use of limited resources and to inform the national response to long-term effects backed-up with real-world data.” Melissa Heightman, Respiratory Consultant 

"We use the patient portal to continue conversations with mothers-to-be and, when needed, we can remotely monitor blood pressure and other vital measurements added to the EHR by patients from the comfort of their homes." David Connor, Head of Midwifery

“The patient portal is a vital source for my healthcare and an instant communicator. I always know when my test results are in as the app alerts me. When I have had an appointment, the notes from the appointment are updated and I have instant access to them.” Natalie Shamash, maternity patient.